With Small Business Week, the S4B Expo and other conferences behind us for another year, there are probably a few business cards stacked on your desk, pleading for attention – and you don’t have a clue what to do with them. If you’re like most, you push them to the other side of your work area (again), or stuff them into your desk drawer, and promise yourself that you’ll get back to them – later.
Days & weeks go by, and you continue to feel the nagging tug of your conscience as it keeps reminding you to “Get on it!” Eventually, you wake up in a cold sweat from a dream that they’ve found you under a 2-tonne heap of vibrantly colored business cards – death from procrastination.
Ok.. maybe it hasn’t gotten to that point yet, but what ARE you doing with all of those cards and connections that you’ve acquired lately?
Follow up is one of the biggest keys to success after attending conferences or networking events. All those leads you’ve collected have absolutely no value if they just sit on your desk and aren’t utilized.
So dig out those cards, and let’s “get on it”. Here is an after Event to-do list to keep you motivated:
1. Send them a quick email, or pick up the phone
Comment that you enjoyed meeting them, and try to include something from your conversation, such as “It was great to meet you at the (event) last week! Once again, congratulations on your new company – it sounds like it’s really going to do well.” or make it personal “It was nice to meet you at the (event) last week! I heard that your daughter’s team did really well at playoffs yesterday!”
It doesn’t have to be a novel, or even very formal – just take that step to move forward and create that first point of contact.
If you’d like to schedule a meeting at the same time, you can also add, “We started to discuss ____________, and I’d love to talk about that a little bit more. What does your schedule look next Tuesday for a quick coffee or lunch?”
If you get a meeting, the first one should be about developing rapport with your new contact – not forcing your agenda on them. Let them show interest in what your business does, and it will lead to a healthier business conversation and longer relationship in the end.
It also helps to write a note on the back of the card either as soon as you get it, or the next day so you remember who they were and what it was that you spoke about.
Once you make that contact, you already have an advantage – the majority of people will never follow up.
If you don’t get a meeting – remember that no doesn’t always mean “no”. Sometimes, it just means “we’re not ready to discuss this just yet”. Don’t write them off – remember to make sure you keep in touch and keep the lines of communication open.
It can take multiple touch points to get a meeting, so be persistent (without being annoying) and it will pay off in the long-run.
2. Connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter
LinkedIn is a perfect platform for storing all of your connections in one place. You just never know when you need to connect with someone – but when you do, it will be easier to reach out with someone that is already on your contact list, and someone that is trusted.
Twitter is more of a personal connection – business is usually secondary. It’s all about getting people to like you. When they like you, they trust you – and will think of you and your business when they or someone they know needs your services.
Try to engage by tweeting and commenting when you hear about important events happening with people. Add value by posting informative content and reach out – again and again. Another thing to remember is to seek out opportunities in which you can help someone out when they need it. By reaching out and helping people with their own requirements before yours, you will have a much better success rate.
3. Create a followup file reminder
If you would like to continue to build on the relationship after your initial follow-up conversation / meeting, create a file or calendar reminder to re-connect. Include what topics you spoke about and when you should contact them again.
4. Six Degrees of Separation
Six degrees of separation is the theory that connections you would never dream of, are six or fewer connections away (by the chain of introduction), from any other person in the world.
The names on those business cards have a network of hundreds if not thousands. Using the power of connection has the ability to open many doors for you and your business. When you’re talking to someone, it’s important to remember that you’re actually speaking to their total contact list – so plan what you say accordingly with well rehearsed and thought out elevator pitches, and conversation starters.